Leopard geckos are strictly insectivorous lizards and require a diet rich in insects and worms. Altering the feeder insects used, and gut loading them prior to giving them to your pet will ensure it gets all of the nourishment it requires for healthy development.
Fully grown leopard geckos should be fed every two to three days. Hatchlings and juveniles need more frequent food intake due to rapid development.
Leopard geckos enjoy eating insects as treats; however, they should not make up the bulk of a pet’s diet as these treats contain too much fat and lack essential vitamins that leopard gecko’s need in order to thrive.
Feeder insects such as mealworms should be offered alongside other insects to maintain your leopard gecko’s interest and to provide it with a varied diet. Gut loading feeder insects (feeding them nutritious diet 24 hours prior to feeding them) as well as dusting them directly before feeding is also essential to ensure they receive all of the required vitamins and minerals from their food source.
An adult leopard gecko should eat three to four insects at each feeding, and losing interest could be an indicator of illness.
Captive leopard geckos must receive adequate amounts of calcium from both invertebrate and plant species, as well as additional supplements containing calcium and Vitamin D3. Without sufficient levels of these nutrients, geckos are susceptible to metabolic bone disease.
Mealworms are an ideal food choice for leopard gecko’s, and can be purchased both in pet stores and online. Their advantages over house crickets include not smelling, not biting, being affordable, and being refrigerated to increase lifespan.
Waxworms (Zophobas morio beetles in their larval stage) are another popular feeder insect for leopard geckos, although they should only be given occasionally as treats or to encourage feeding among sick geckos who might otherwise resist food intake. Wax worms also tend to encourage faster recovery rates when sick geckos become reluctant feeders and refuse food entirely.
Leopard geckos typically enjoy crickets because they can easily be found at most pet stores and contain an ideal protein-to-fat ratio. You may also try offering dusted waxworms (high in fat content) and hornworms as treats for their diets, or canned/freeze dried insects dusted with vitamin powder as treats for leo’s enjoyment.
Prior to offering insects as food for your leopard gecko, it’s a good practice to dust them with supplement powder. This ensures your lizard receives all of their required nutrition from each meal; especially important when dealing with smooth-surfaced crickets and hornworms that might not readily absorb powder dust. Dust insects twice every week with your chosen supplement powder for best results.
Dubia roaches (Blattica dubia) are medium-sized cockroaches commonly sold as live food for leopard geckos and other insectivores, such as leopard geckos. Native to Central and South America’s lush rainforests, Dubias have vestigial wings which do not allow them to fly – hence why these live feeders are used so frequently by pet industry sellers as live food feeders for reptiles.
Gut loading insects for leopard geckos is essential to their diets; this process involves providing nutritional foods like fruits, vegetables and grains 12-24 hours prior to feeding them to your reptile as this ensures they contain essential minerals and vitamins in their diets.
There are 1,200 species of hornworms worldwide, with 120 found here in North America alone. Hornworm caterpillars make an excellent meal option for Leopard Geckos as their taste appeals directly to them and they’re easy for them to consume and digest; however, due to the lack of proteins they don’t contain essential nutrition – so for optimal results they need to be “gut-loaded” prior to being given to Leo.
Food products made of meat have a limited shelf life of two months when stored properly, are more costly, and therefore typically offered only as snacks or treats to Leos.
Varying his diet with crickets, dubia roaches and hornworms will ensure a happy and healthy gecko. When offering new prey items it is always prudent to maintain a food log.